Comparing Internet Radio Apps

With the popularity of streaming services in recent years, it seemed the radio model was on its way out, now that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every music service gunning for the top spot sees it necessary to have a radio feature in their arsenal. Spotify and Rdio both have the ability to start “radio stations” for any artist, mimicking Pandora’s functionality. MySpace recently added radio functionality to their iOS app in hopes of relevancy, while Apple’s 900 pound music store, iTunes, will incorporate iTunes Radio into its desktop software, iPhones and iPods, as well as Apple TV. The radio model is familiar, of course, but is it really the best ready-made solution? And which service provides the best results? 


Pandora is the first thought for internet radio, and for good reason. The company was able to break into the mainstream, having an app on every platform available, including TVs. For well known bands and songs, recommendations from the service might as well be from a long time friend who knows your preferences. The smaller, often unsigned, local bands, however, get little love and find many repeats or veer off on a tangent. In a pinch, looking for music for a gathering, the service performs admirably and often with little complaints beyond the commercials.

Users who subscribe to Rdio or Spotify have usually moved beyond a standard radio model and decided they want more control over the music they hear, creating playlists with specific songs and specific track order. Both these streaming services do offer artist or genre generated radio, but Rdio faired better, perhaps because it’s powered by The Echo Nest. All-you-can-eat services really are geared towards the enthusiast who craves discovery or has been sold on the idea that they could never legally afford all the music they want to buy.

iTunes Radio, for all its hype, is only speculation until it actually goes live for the public. It will work similar to Pandora, free with ads and all. There will also be more adventurous pre-made stations such as songs ‘Trending on Twitter.’ For most people, music is not an area they desire change so iTunes Radio appears to be trying to ease the transition for anyone unsatisfied with the competition. The only question is how big of a hit will it become?

MySpace is in the process of re-branding and re-launching and with it comes a new iOS app. The act of needing to sign up or sign in will likely scare off any casual radio listeners, the radio songs choices scaring off the ones who do make it through the gauntlet. When skipping songs (allowed 5 skips), the app tended to pause and think longer than expected, the same way a DJ blindsided with odd requests might be tempted to just grab whatever record was within arms reach. Last.fm performed adequately with the song choices, but the app which has not been updated for the latest iPhone screen, even after 9+ months, should be worrisome to any potential new users.

Using the recently successful band Imagine Dragons as the starting point for the different radio apps, here are the first five songs played. You be the judge on the results, seeing which fits your style the best.

Imagine Dragons on MySpace app
Teardrop - “Massive Attack”
Harry Nilsson - “Everybody’s Talkin'”
The Shins - “The Rifle’s Spiral”
Weezer - “Hash Pipe”
Johnny Cash - “Hung My Head”

Imagine Dragons on Rdio app
Ok Go - “Get Over It”
Neon Trees - “Animal”
Matt & Kim - “Lightning”
The Naked & Famous - “Punching In A Dream”
Grouplove - “Naked Kids”

Imagine Dragons on Pandora app (Free User)
Imagine Dragons - “Ready Aim Fire”
Young The Giant - “My Body”
The Home Depot Commercial
Walk The Moon - “Anna Sun”
AWOLNATION - “Sail”
Car Max Commercial
Imagine Dragons - “My Fault”

Imagine Dragons on Last.fm app
Imagine Dragons - “My Fault”
AWOLNATION - “Not Your Fault”
Rival Sons - “You Want To”
Walk The Moon - “Tightrope”
Of Monsters and Men - “Six Weeks”

Imagine Dragons on Spotify app
Imagine Dragons - “My Fault”
Matt and Kim - “Cameras”
Fun. - “Out on the Town”
Ed Sheeran - “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”
Coldplay - “Us Against The World”

 
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